Photo of the Week


Humor on the hoardings spotted before the first round of the French elections: “John Goodman (Jean Gentilhomme) for President,” the candidate of the “Nice Peoples' Party. That would make a change. © Paris Update












Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Silent films from Switzerland?


> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, through May 2.

Retail heaven
> You can buy just about anything at the century-old Foire de Paris, a gigantic pop-up store. Porte de Versailles, Paris. April 27-May 8.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, through April 29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Boukhrief’s La Confession, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 28.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.


Hot Topics - Flash News


Smoking/No Smoking

Indoor Smoking Out, Outdoor Smoking In

smoking paris
Outdoor smoking can even be enjoyed while playing boules. Photo: J. Gascoigne

Until the beginning of 2008, most images traditionally associated with Parisian life involved cigarettes: self-important intellectuals puffing away in Left Bank cafés, smoke-filled brasseries, cigarettes dangling from the lips of sophisticated ladies who lunch and so on. But all that changed with the ban implemented in January. Now, five months on, it is worth considering how Parisian life has changed.

Before: when walking into a restaurant, you were engulfed in clouds of smoke. A visit to a restaurant invariably meant that one’s clothes would reek of smoke for hours afterwards.

Now: when walking out of a restaurant, you are engulfed in clouds of smoke on the sidewalk. It is a definite health risk walking down a street lined with restaurants, as there is likely to be as much cigarette smoke in the air as traffic fumes. For those living in the vicinity, noise pollution has become a real problem too, as smokers in the streets chat each other up late into the night.

Before: when walking into a restaurant, the dominant smell was that of stale cigarettes.

Now: when walking into a restaurant, the dominant smell is that of cooking fat or washroom cleaner.

Before: seated at a neighboring table, smokers considerately held their lit cigarettes away from the people at their own table and under your nose.

Now: it is hard to know whether the empty table you see in the corner is in fact empty or simply temporarily vacated by those who have gone outside to smoke. One advantage at apéritif time, though, is that one can help oneself to one’s absent neighbor’s peanuts with impunity.

Sitting in a café the day after the ban went into effect, I was amused to see a young man walk in, sit at the counter and unthinkingly light up. When politely asked by the café owner to put it out, the man stared heavenward in despair and uttered the wonderful French oath, “Putain!” (literally, “whore,” but probably best translated as “shit!”). Smokers have been uttering similar curses ever since.

James Gascoigne

© 2008 Paris Update

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